Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The River Shannon

Legend has it that Rowan trees once dropped bright red berries into a well where they were eaten by silver fish, earning them great wisdom.  Irish fishermen would catch the fish, hoping to share in this wisdom, but women were banned from the well.  One day, a rebel woman named Sionan fished in the well and caught a silver fish.  Suddenly, a great floodburst carried her west to the sea.  The body of water became known as the Shannon, after the woman.

The River Shannon, Irelands longest river, provides a natural barrier between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  The river spans 200 miles before it pours into the Atlantic Ocean.  Along its banks sit historic towns, castles and monasteries.  Key military battles have taken place along its shores.  Its floodplain contains marshy grasslands and bogs ideal for birds.

While the silver fish, or Atlantic salmon, still swim in the Shannon, attracting anglers to the area.  In the fall, the adult salmon swim upstream from the ocean into the river to spawn, capable of leaping a ten foot waterfall.  The following spring, the baby salmon are born.  As they grow older, they acquire vertical bars, silver in colour.  Some Atlantic salmon spawn for multiple years unlike the Pacific salmon which die after spawning.  Once tens of thousands of fish used to return each year, but now only a few thousand do.

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